Abbey Paduano wrapped her Division III collegiate hockey career in February 2020, just before COVID hit – but by the time she graduated from SUNY Cortland with a degree in Sport Management, the sports industry was on ice.
Her experiences while interning with professional hockey team the Utica Comets and the city’s main arena had spurred her interest in human resources – and in the complicated aspects of the event business such as contracts between a venue and entertainment.
“I knew I wanted a background in law, but wasn’t sure I wanted a law degree,” she said.
She looked for fully online master’s programs because of the uncertainty surrounding COVID, and soon found Albany Law’s degree in Human Resources: Law, Leadership & Policy.
“I was completely drawn to it because it has the law component as well as covers how HR works and helps you understand the people working with you or for you,” Paduano said. “It’s a well-rounded degree.”
She started the program in January 2021, balancing coursework with her job as a manager at Bath & Body Works and then, in the summer, with searching for jobs in her field. The sports industry finally opened back up, and in September 2021 she joined Colgate University Athletics as an event and marketing coordinator.
One high point of the job thus far was getting to attend the NCAA March Madness tournament in Milwaukee with the Colgate men’s basketball team. Paduano assisted with ticket operations and coordinated the cheer team and pep band; she said it was an incredible opportunity.
Working in higher education, she found the course on Title IX very helpful in understanding the law and how compliance works. She also enjoyed two challenging courses taught by adjunct professor James Boswell: Human Capital Analytics & Workforce Planning, and Financial Planning and Assessment. And she found the coverage of diversity, equity and inclusion invaluable. “We need diversity in the workforce, yes, but we need inclusion first, where every person is seen, heard and valued, and recognized as having a purpose.”
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Paduano believes that professionals in any industry, particularly those who supervise anyone, would benefit from this degree. “Human Resources is the backbone of every organization,” she said. “Especially in today’s climate, businesses are looking for people with this skill set, who understand how the business is run – and how to enhance it as well.”
Paduano completed the program in May and submitted her thesis on her 24th birthday. “I appreciate the opportunity to learn with individuals from all industries and professional experiences. It puts me at an advantage early in my career.”
Her plan is to stay in the sports industry but move from events to more team-oriented administrative roles. “I want to be a great mentor and boss someday,” she said. “This degree will help me be a better supervisor, and I know it will open many doors for me in the future.”
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